WASHINGTON, DCThere is only so much Southwest Airlines can blame on the weather when the airline was responsible for 87% of all US flight cancellations on Tuesday – more than 2,500 – while the airline with the second highest, Spirit, accounted for only 83 cancellations. Government watchdog Accountable.US called the airline’s cancellation crisis a problem of its own making after slashing its workforce by over 1,400 in 2021 and choosing to spend $5.6 billion on stock buybacks in the 3 years leading up to the pandemic rather than making investments in infrastructure to be better prepared for extreme weather events like this week – and even reinstated dividends earlier this month, the first major airline to do so after the pandemic. The company also stated it expects higher revenue in its 4th quarter earnings from sky-high fares.

One of Southwest Airlines’ own pilots gave a grim assessment this week: “What went wrong is that our IT infrastructure for scheduling software is vastly outdated. It can’t handle the number of pilots, and flight attendants that we have in the system with our complex route network.”

Southwest Airlines made a risky gamble that mass layoffs and spending billions of dollars on handouts to investors rather than fixing infrastructure would pay off with record profits.”

Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US

“The airline lost that bet badly, and now their customers are left paying the price, including the thousands stranded in the middle of holiday season travel. Southwest’s well-compensated executives could have prioritized its workers and customers by preparing for the worst, but greed trumped all as they put a small group of wealthy investors first. Consumers shouldn’t be the ones stuck holding the bag for Southwest’s greedy management decisions, but here we are. This is where the Transportation Department should start investigating why this happened,” said Herrig.



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